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How We Can All Reduce Single-Use Plastic

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plastic free alternatives

This post is a humble plea to help be part of the solution to a problem that is much bigger than any of us… the growing amount of plastic in the ocean. We’ve known for a while some of the health issues related to plastic use, and now the environmental concerns are becoming increasingly alarming.

Plastic in the Ocean: A Growing Problem

We all encounter plastic everyday. In fact, I’d guess that it would be almost impossible not to encounter plastic in some form for even a single day since it is used in everything from clothing to automobile interiors to computers and phones. Our planet is starting to feel the effects of this massive plastic use.

Some sobering stats on the plastic problem:

  • Last year, just one of the major soda companies created over 110 billion plastic bottles worldwide.
  • There are an estimated 5+ trillion pieces of plastic floating in our oceans, weighing over 300,000 tons.
  • Surfers Against Sewage reports that the world produced 1.5 million tons a year of plastic in 1950, and now we produce over 320 million tons a year. And this number is set to double by 2034.

According to Vox.com, just some of the consequences we face due to growing plastic use are:

  • Over 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million sea birds die each year.
  • Two thirds of fish species suffer from for plastic ingestion and by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.
  • 5 massive garbage patch plastic islands have formed in the oceans, including one between Hawaii and California that is as big as Texas!
  • This plastic is also increasing the acidification of the ocean and drastically increasing the chances of coral getting sick.

Recycling Isn’t the Answer

Plastic is designed to last a really long time. This means it can take up to 1,000 years to fully break down, and when it does break down it releases harmful compounds. Recycling is often presented as the solution, but it isn’t a complete or even viable answer for several reasons:

  1. Only a small percentage of the world’s plastic is even recycled.
  2. When it is, it costs thousands of dollars to recycle and the newly recycled plastic can’t even be sold for as much as it costs to recycle it.
  3. We’re producing more plastic than we can possibly recycle and more types that can be easily sorted, which makes the process slow and inefficient.
  4. Most of plastic is recycled into unusable forms that can only be made into park benches and rugs but not bottles, so more plastic is still being created.

See this article for more convincing reasons why recycling isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

Bottom line: Recycling is better than not recycling, but it doesn’t reduce our overuse of plastic. We all (from individuals to companies and countries) need to start focusing on reducing our plastic use in the first place.

The Worst Offenders

Sadly, the plastic problem is one where individuals shoulder the blame while companies reap the profits. A January 2018 article in Scientific American explains how increased profit margins have encouraged major companies to lobby for continued use of these products.

In short, these companies have resisted measures like the five-cent deposit on plastic or glass bottles that led to a sharp increase in recycling. At the same time, they spend millions on ad campaigns like “Keep America Beautiful” and “I Want to be Recycled” that let us feel like we’re accomplishing something beneficial for the environment when our individual efforts can do little in the face of corporate plastic overuse.

Statistically, states and cities that enact an extra charge on plastic bottles and bags see use of these products reduce by 80%. We could even ban or create an opt-in only policy on single-use products like styrofoam and plastic straws. The problem is so widespread that legislation might be necessary, but I also always like to consider what we can all do individually without the need for laws and regulation.

Single-Use Plastics: What We Can All Do

This leads me to the small changes we can each make, which together can make a big difference in plastic use. Big companies may not want to stop using plastics because of profit margins, but if we all reduce our use of their products that use plastic, we can influence these corporations with our buying power.

Please…

This growing problem affects us all and is only getting worse! Please consider making as many changes as you can to move toward a low-waste or zero-waste mentality whenever possible.

Alternatives to Plastics: Easy Ways to Make a Difference

The following is a list of alternatives to single-use plastic, starting with the worst offenders. These products are most often found in the ocean and are easy ones to replace:

1. Plastic Bottles

In the US alone, 1,500 plastic water bottles are discarded every single second. Let that sink in. Every single second! We send over 38 billion to landfills and into the ocean every single year. And these are completely unnecessary! In the developed world we have access to clean water, filters, and reusable bottles. Let’s start using them.

Instead use:

  • A reusable water bottle in place of disposable ones
  • Your own water, smoothies, fresh juice, or teas from home brought from home
  • A water filter in your home instead of having to buy water (This investment will save money over time too.)

2. Personal Hygiene Products

Diapers, sanitary napkins, and other hygiene products are a big contributor of pollution. It can cost thousands of dollars to diaper one baby until potty training and contribute hundreds of thousands of disposable plastic diapers to the landfills and ocean. In addition, in a lifetime a woman may use up to 16,000 disposable tampons or pads, adding as much as $300 pounds of plastic waste to the planet.

Instead use: 

3. Plastic Straws

Straws have been in the news lately and many people are already choosing to opt out. Just say “no thanks” to straws in general, or use eco-friendly alternatives instead.

Instead use:

4. Disposable Cups

Polystyrene (styrofoam) cups and disposable coffee cups (which are also lined with plastic) are very prevalent as well. Just like with bottles, these are an easy switch to make and often lead to healthier alternatives to beverages too.

Instead use:

5. Plastic Grocery Bags

We use the average bag for mere minutes before discarding it. In several places, officials have said plastic bags contributed to flooding by clogging drains and keeping the water from abating. And these types of plastic leach BPA and other compounds into our food and our skin.

Instead try:

6. Produce Bags

Produce bags are easily replaceable too. While the plastic ones in the store are so easy, some inexpensive reusable bags are actually much more convenient and save a lot of plastic exposure in the long run. As a bonus, they don’t rip and drop all of your produce if you pick them up the wrong way!

Instead try:

7. Plastic Containers & Food Wrap

If we’d all just stop buying anything that comes in a plastic container, I think we’d all see our health and our planet change almost immediately! But since that is a really tall order, we can start with some baby steps like reducing packaging from overly processed foods, storing our leftovers in reusable glass or stainless containers, and using non-plastic wrap.

This post has a full list of how I did this in my kitchen, but there are a couple of my favorites listed here…

Instead try:

8. Plastic Soap Containers

Many types of antibacterial soaps actually harm the skin microbiome, and they come in single-use plastic containers.

Instead try:

9. Bottles of Cleaning Products

In the same way, cleaning products are often just a small amount of the effective ingredient diluted in a lot of water and sold in a big plastic bottle! Many of these cleaners carry the same risks as antibacterial soaps and there are natural options that work much better.

I opt for non-toxic and safe natural cleaning concentrates and use these to make everything from foaming hand soap to all purpose cleaner and laundry soap. The concentrate comes in a single plastic bottle that is recyclable and I use this to fill reusable glass or stainless steel pump or spray bottles for use around the house. This reduces the need for dozens of other plastic containers!

Instead use:

10. Food Packaging

Most processed foods come in plastic packaging, and most of them aren’t great food choices anyway. Skip the packaged food and make meals and snacks at home to reduce packaging (and your body will thank you too).

Instead try:

  • Buying foods in bulk whenever possible
  • Joining a natural foods co-op
  • Supporting local farmer’s markets
  • Using stainless steel containers for school lunches

11. Gum

Might not be the first thing you think about when you think of plastic, but most gum does contain plastics and a lot of it ends up in the environment each year.

Instead try:

Take the No-Plastic Challenge for a Month

If you’re as concerned as I am about how plastic is affecting our health and our planet and want to make a difference, please join me in avoiding single-use plastics for a month. The rules are simple and we’re on the honor system, but here’s how to do it:

  1. Make a plan for how you’ll avoid or replace these single-use plastic items. Carry a water bottle and reusable coffee mug. Stock your car with some reusable grocery bags, and meal plan to cook foods at home instead of ordering takeout. And swear off drinks in plastic bottles entirely!
  2. Get any necessary supplies to have on hand instead.
  3. Let us know in the comments when you’re starting and how it goes!

Will you join me in the No-Plastic Challenge? Do you have other ideas for reducing plastic use? Let’s get started changing the planet for the better!

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Health

Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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